The Sundays of Ordinary Time begins this week, Ordinary Time is called “ordinary” because the weeks are numbered.
In the call of Samuel and the first Apostles, today’s Readings shed light on our own calling to be followers of Christ.
Having been baptized by John, Jesus begins to gather followers. We learn in today’s reading how Jesus’ first followers were gathered. The first two, Andrew and another man, were followers of John the Baptist. After hearing John’s testimony, they became followers of Jesus. During their time with Jesus, the details of which are not specified, Andrew and the other follower came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Andrew then brings his brother, Simon, to Jesus. Immediately, Jesus gave Simon a new name, calling him Peter, which means “rock” in Greek.
Since you’re all sitting here in church, it’s safe for me to assume that all of you are, to some extent, following Jesus.
So, what if Jesus stopped in his tracks this morning, turned around to face you, and asked you point blank, “What are you looking for? I see that you are following me. I know that you’ve been checking me out. Well, what do you want? What are you after? What do you think I can do for you?” What would you say? How would you respond?
What do the two men in the story say? Well, they respond to Jesus’ question with a question of their own. Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for?” And they ask him, “Teacher, where are you staying?” It’s a question, but it also gives us some answers. For one, the fact that they call Jesus “teacher” tells us that they believe Jesus may have something to teach them. So, at the very least, they are looking for answers.
Furthermore, in asking Jesus where he is staying, they don’t just want to follow him from a distance down the road, or even chat with him in passing on the road. They are hoping, really, for the chance to spend some time with Jesus. They want to see his character, to hear what he has to say. They want to talk through their questions. So, when they ask where Jesus is staying, they’re hoping for an invitation.
Jesus doesn’t let them down. He says, simply, “Come and see. You want to know where I’m staying? Come along and see for yourself.” Always with Jesus it’s, “Come and see”. Always with Jesus the invitation is extended, a gracious and wide-open invitation. What’s more, the invitation always comes with a promise. Seek and you will find, Jesus says. Always with Jesus it’s, “Come and see.”
While we don’t know exactly how the evening was spent, we do know that for at least one of these men it changed everything. Andrew was one of the two. And John’s account here makes clear that Andrew’s time with Jesus was transformational. So much so that the first chance he gets, Andrew races to tell his brother. “Simon,” he says, “we have found the Messiah! Come and see, Simon! We have found the Christ!” A day earlier Andrew called Jesus “teacher”. But now, having spent time with Jesus, Andrew knows better. Now Jesus is “Messiah.” Having been given the opportunity to come and see himself, the first thing he does is rush to his brother and extend the same opportunity to him. It turns out that Simon, like his brother, is also a willing and eager seeker. Just like his brother before him, Simon goes to see for himself if what he has been told about Jesus is true. When he does, Jesus welcomes Simon, just liked he welcomed his brother before him.
We’re told that when Simon came face to face with Jesus, Jesus looked carefully at Simon. The word in the original language here suggests that Jesus gazed intently at Simon. Jesus, in other words, wasn’t simply studying his face; Jesus was studying his heart. And he was not studying Simon’s heart to see what sort of man he was. He was, studying to see what sort of man he could become.
Remarkably, Jesus does the same for each of us. If we would seek after him, we will find him. And when we find Christ we also find, ourselves. For in Christ we discover who God made us to be. Only Jesus, in fact, can really tell us our true identity. If we continue to receive the Sacraments, there is hope. And if there is hope, the grace and mercy of God will not let us down